It has gotten to the point where near-death experiences — episodes of supernatural encounters during clinical expiring — are commonly discussed among doctors, psychologists, and other scientists.
Most who have taken an in-depth look reach a similar conclusion: what some call “Lazarus events” can’t all be explained. In fact, the majority cannot. But neither can the majority be proved in a laboratory: we can’t see the soul with a microscope (or, for that matter — as it whisks to the afterlife — a telescope).
Many, however, offer what researchers accept as compelling and even definitive circumstantial evidence.
That particularly comes in cases whereby those who return from the threshold of death describe not only what was going on in the room or at the site where they “died” (who was there; what medical procedures were conducted; what was said among doctors or nurses; and other details), but things or people or events far out of normal vision or earshot.
There’s the case of Olga Gearhardt.
In 1989, Gearhardt underwent heart transplant surgery.
According to a new book, The Self Does Not Die: Verified Paranormal Phenomena from Near-Death Experiences, all her family arrived to await the outcome, except a son-in-law who could not be at the hospital.
“The heart transplant was successful, but at 2:15 a.m., her new heart stopped beating and it took three hours to resuscitate her heart and then longer still for her to recover consciousness,” say the authors, Titus Rivas, Anny Dirven, and Rudolf H. Smit.
“The son-in-law, who was sleeping at home, awoke at exactly 2:15 a.m., and Olga was standing at his bedside.
“Thinking that the surgery had not taken place, he asked her how she was. She replied, ‘I am fine. I’m going to be all right. There’s nothing for you to worry about.’ Then she disappeared.
“The son-in-law wrote down the time and exactly what was said, and went back to sleep.”
When Olga came to, her first words were, “Did you get the message?” She later related that she had left her body and tried but was unable to communicate with those in the hospital waiting room — so she went to the son-in-law. The authors say the scribbled note the son-in-law took was studied by a researcher and verified.
Of course, that’s not absolute proof. Couldn’t one argue that he scribbled it later?
It is, however, good circumstantial evidence.
There was Helen (an assumed name).
She was in a serious accident, both her ankles broken. It took an excruciatingly long while for rescuers to free her.
Turns out, her spirit already was free as emergency responders fought to extract her body. For she later related details — details she could not possibly have physically known — of the entire large accident scene. Helen had been unresponsive and trapped — but her consciousness had surveyed the scene. Rescuers had no doubt that she was unconscious throughout the thirty minutes it took to free her. Yet she knew not only what was going on in her vehicle but with the others.
“She described walking over to a dark green, four-door sedan that was smashed against her hood at a sharp angle where it had hit her from the left side, after running a stop sign,” note the researchers. “She described the dark-haired man with a beard, slumping over the steering wheel, moaning. She correctly detailed that the impact of the two vehicles — her car and the bearded man’s — had been the initial catalyst that had created a pile-up when the delivery van that was behind her and the white Suburban behind it couldn’t stop in time.” When her spirit returned to her own car, she saw a woman trapped in it and realized it was herself.
In Texas a woman named Jan Price rose above her body during a severe illness. This was interesting because her husband John claimed he saw her exit her earthly body. “She looked just as she did, full-fleshed,” he told investigators, “not a ghostly apparition, and she was wearing this beautiful green, flowing robe.”
At the same moment, Jan said, “I was up above looking down at what was going on there and thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, this is real. EMS is at my house. That’s my body down there on that stretcher, and I’m not in it anymore!”
Such accounts are numerous and the subject of this easy-to-read but academic study, issued by the International Association for Near-Death Studies.
We don’t subscribe to all the views of this secular organization, but much of their research is valuable.
As a neurosurgeon named Wilder Penfield once said, “All of the brain is in the mind, but not all of the mind is in the brain.”
Even science is beginning — albeit very slowly, and grudgingly — to admit this.
[resources The Self Does Not Die]